Potential Mental Problems in Children Using Smartphones: Study Findings

Children Who Use Smartphones May Have Mental Problems

Discover the potential mental problems associated with early smartphone usage in children. Explore the alarming study findings now.

Here’s a dark side you should know about if you think giving your child a smartphone or tablet at a young age would offer her a digital advantage. A recent study shows that there is a correlation between children being given smartphones at an early age and the development of mental health issues later in life.

The results, which were made public on Monday and discussed with TOI, are quite concerning. Parameters of mental health were shown to consistently diminish with younger ages at which cell phones (including tablets) were initially owned.

The research, done in over 40 countries by the US-based non-profit Sapien Labs, indicated that young individuals who had access to smartphones at a young age were more likely to have suicidal thoughts, hostility towards others, disconnection from reality, and hallucinations.

More than 40,000 people, including almost 4,000 Indians, were surveyed in more than 40 countries for the latest worldwide research. It seems like women are disproportionately impacted.

Seventy-four per cent of the women who responded to the survey and reported getting their first smartphone before the age of ten had MHQ ratings in the “distressed” or “struggling” category as young adults. When comparing those who received their first smartphone at age 10 to those who obtained their first smartphone at age 15, the drop was significant: 61% vs 52%. Study participants who obtained their first smartphone after the age of 18 were more likely to be classified as having mental health issues.

The pattern was also seen among men but to a lesser extent. People who obtained their first smartphone at age 6 were more likely to be in a “distressed” or “struggling” mental state than those who got their first smartphone at age 18 (36% vs. 20%). Researchers in research titled “Age of First Smartphone and Mental Wellbeing Outcome” employed a Mental Health Quotient (MHQ) evaluation that took into account a wide variety of symptoms and cognitive skills. The results were compared to the respondents’ claimed ages at when they obtained their first smartphone or tablet.

According to Tara Thiagarajan, founder and chief scientist of Sapien Labs, which conducted the study, “getting your phone early means more mental health problems as an adult, particularly suicidal thoughts, feelings of aggression towards others, and sense of being detached from reality; overall a poorer sense of social self,” which is how one views oneself and relates to others.

The results are presented against the background of a worldwide, generational deterioration in youth mental health that started about 2010–2014 in every region where people have access to the internet. It has special significance for India. McAfee reported that 83% of Indian youngsters ages 10-14 used smartphones in 2016, which was 7% more than the global average of 76%.

Avatar of Yash Sharma

By Yash Sharma

I write as a writer, as someone very familiar with the Internet, as someone who is completely at ease with current technology and the way it is transforming the social fabric of the globe, the business world in particular, and as a former web developer.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *